The Paris Fashion Week women’s calendar was published with an African talent front and center. Naomi Campbell’s favorite, Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize, will make his debut on the Paris runway on February 24. This marks the beginning of a week in which the South African designer and LVMH award winner Thebe Magugu is on the program.
Tongues are wagging in the fashion world that Naomi Campbell might support Lagos-based Ize again, who tapped her to appear during his Arise Fashion Week runway show in April. He also secured the model/performer Alton Mason – the first black model to run for Chanel, who has since been involved in a Louis Vuitton campaign and appeared on Abloh’s Vuitton Runway last year.
Ize, who launched men’s fashion in 2016, now designs for both genders. He bowed to consumer pressure when women bought 70% of his men’s pieces. He grew up between Vienna and Lagos, where he supported the local economy by using local weavers to make the traditional Aso Oke textile, which can be found heavily in his clothing. The designer studied in Vienna and did an internship with Bono and Ali Hewson’s Edun label in New York, which contributed to promoting trade with Africa.
Magugu, who is based in Johannesburg, said he planned to spend his LVMH Prize money on solidifying the foundations of his three-year-old label, renting a new studio and expanding his previous staff of three. Unlike many designers, he doesn’t shy away from politics, and a recent collection referenced the Black Sash women’s resistance movement during the apartheid era in South Africa.
Elsewhere, the ready-to-wear schedule, which will run from February 24 to March 3, also features the return of Kenzo on Feb. 26, under new creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista.